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August 20, 2015

A Heavy Thanks


The message came while traveling home from a long weekend camping with my sons and friends. Grandma had passed away. My feet never hit the ground until driving to the funeral home on Tuesday afternoon. Three hours alone in the car grants plenty of processing. I fought through tears for half the trip, my face caught in weird involuntary contortions of sorrow and pure anger.

I have no reason to be angry. Perhaps I have some work to do.
 
Margaret Gorinski lived a full life to the age of 91. Her body failed rapidly over the last four months, so this passing was part blessing. Or so it went. What follows is what I attempted to say during the service, after my father spoke. I made it through most of this, but it wasn't pretty. 
 
Approximately five years ago Gram asked if I would speak at her funeral. Over the course of a few weeks I put together a two or three page essay. A year later I decided that it was stupid to wait until someone dies to tell them how you feel. So I shared it with her. She read it carefully, set the papers on the table in front of her and said [paraphrase] “That’s way too much. They’ll be falling asleep or waiting to go to lunch.”
 
That’s how Gram was. She would have happily sat through an entire lecture on the lives of any one of her family and friends. If she felt a little hungry, she would have cracked open a pack of Certs. If you or your friends, or your friends friends needed some Certs...her purse was like the loaves and fishes of Certs.

But for her, my words about her were too much. Well, too bad. Here's a little of what I wrote about her. 

I’m not sure that Gram had any great ambition other than to serve and support us.
 
Some of my earliest memories are of her reading to me, then later to my brother and cousins, Patchwork Puppy and Mother Goose. Many times she sat on her wooden chair in the small kitchen throwing uncle Mark’s racquetballs. She would throw short-hops but wouldn’t send me into the heat radiator to my left. I remember watching her and Pap G kneeling to pray at their bedside. She was the first to teach and show me the habit of prayer at bed time.
 
We played many rounds of the card game UNO. To this day I remain undefeated against her. She taught me to play poker, and my record there is much less impressive. Not many of us can speak of a person who taught them to pray AND to play poker!
 
I’m not unique in having so many memories of her and Pap’s little home in Calumet. There are countless stories about the good times in and around their home. Who can forget the cookie drawer, two places to the right of the sink? Gram and Pap lived humbly and below their means. She was so generous. She graciously gave all of us her time, unconditional love, and a ham sandwich. This was truly the work of God through Margaret.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

Gram lives on through her influence upon us. We named our daughter Maggie after her. She was at peace in life and had no fear of death, I believe due to her faith and how she lived. I wasn’t around much as my parents, uncles, and aunt were caring for her up to her time of passing. For that I thank them.


When the funeral director gave the call for final words and thoughts, I could think of only two words.
 
“Thank you.”
 
Some would describe the two words as heartfelt or sincere. But what I meant was more than that. The words were raw and heavy and lifted from the depths of my soul. The world of her family and friends is a bit tilted now, as it should be without her.
 
Thank you Gram.
We love you.

2 comments:

winkulery said...

Very good description of Grama Peg. She was always known to my kids as Grama Peg too.

Kerri Malloy said...

Very touching Bob, well done. 💛